Dear White Rabbit,
Does couple therapy actually work, and if so, how? My ex-husband and I tried going to some sessions before our divorce, and we just ended up shouting at each other in front of the poor therapist! Now I am in a new relationship where there is a lot of jealousy. Who can help me and what will be different this time?
PS I like your website articles, they get me thinking.
Juliet + Romeo
Dear Juliet and Romeo,
Yes, poor therapist, especially one who has ‘rabbit’ ears that are sensitive to loud and aggressive shouting! Therapy is about sharing your issues that you have with each other in a safe and supportive environment. It is not about getting a therapist to take sides or umpire a ‘tennis match’! You both have an opportunity to be heard and responded to in a manner that promotes a sense of unconditional positive regard for all persons in a session, including the therapist. It is about sharing your perspectives and having the time to discover alternative solutions to problems that have kept your relationship stuck and bogged down. On the other hand some couples are so polite with each other that the therapist might suggest a little bit of letting off steam. If this happens don’t be confused at the request to enter the proverbial ‘boxing ring’. Wild Hares have been known to box a few rounds when fighting for a mate. The White Rabbit understands this form of display but the deal is she requests the match.
At Change Matters we believe that all couples inevitably get into a ‘dance’ in which old wounds and core issues are replayed. We see the sessions as a marvellous opportunity to get to know and support you better.
How we work is that we will see you as a couple for the first session of 90 minutes, thereafter we see you for 2 to 3 individual sessions of 60 minutes. This gives us all the clues we need to identify what it is that gets you to replay your painful and destructive cycle within your relationship that has lead to crash and burn. Then we bring you both into another couple session where we ‘map’ your ‘dance’ and help you shift your perspective. Then the hard work begins. We get you to practice new behaviours. At this stage we will either see you individually or as a couple. This structure of seeing you as a couple and then on an individual basis, works well because it enables both of you to own your ‘stuff’ and be responsible for making the necessary changes.
Our service is also psycho-educational. We sometimes recommend that you attend one of our workshops. This gives you both an opportunity to gain more insight, tools and techniques that address your core issues and provide you with a way through to recovery and healing.
As with all our services our criteria are that you need to be open, willing and committed to doing the work, despite what the outcome will be. As with everything in life, there are no guarantees that a specific outcome will occur. Nevertheless, we do assist you to obtain the best possible way forward for you as an individual as well as for you as a couple.
As for jealousy, well that’s another curve ball all by itself! Just to note that jealousy arises because we fear losing something. In order to come to terms with this fear we will need to unpack it as a concept and then see how it translates itself in your relationship. Facing a fear, examining its nature, coming to terms with its destructive qualities and changing its patterns is a dynamic process – one that is always worthwhile engaging in.
With best wishes
The White Rabbit who has sensitive ears